Monday, September 26, 2011

Moonblood - Taste Our German Steel (2000)

Moonblood's sophomore effort, Taste Our German Steel, picks up from where Blut und Krieg left off and even succeeds in creating a darker and more haunting atmosphere. Released through End All Life, in 2000, this L.P. was limited to 100 hand-numbered copies. Unfortunately, the band's second full-length album also proved to be their last. Gaamalzagoth and Occulta Mors laid the band to rest, shortly thereafter, and thus robbed the Black Metal world of any future brilliance.

"Embraced by Lycanthropy's Spell" begins at full speed, with a dark and sombre tremolo riff that is accompanied by minimalist drumming that does nothing more than keep the pace. The vocals are grim and evil, suiting the music perfectly. Right away, it is clear that the production is even more harsh and under-produced than on the band's first record, giving it the feeling that it belonged to some previous era. The riffs possess an epic quality about them, which is something Moondblood was known for. This material shows more influence from early Darkthrone and less of the Bathory-esque tendencies that would sometimes appear. The repetition creates a droning aura that lures the listener into a trance-like state.

The next track is "Sarg und Tod, Part II", which utilizes a similar riffing style but offers a different feel based on the half-paced drumming pattern. This soon shifts to the same blasting approach as before, but the brief difference adds something. Around the middle, the band incorporates a clean guitar melody that blends in with the rest of the instruments, fairly nicely.

"Then Came the Silence" begins with a lone tremolo melody that carries a mournful vibe. This is soon joined by the rest of the instruments, and the atmosphere created is dark and hopeless. The song follows the same general pattern as the previous tracks, and the overall impression is that the album is much more cohesive than the last one, partially due to the lack of variation. The raw production suits the compositions very well, though a little more clarity would have benefited the brilliant melodies. Again, this song conveys an epic feeling and the riffs are very memorable, despite the rough sound.

This is followed by "Apocalyptic Vision", which starts out with an interesting intro that hearkens back to the 80s, in a way. Soon enough, however, the bands dives into a full-on Second Wave Black Metal sound, in the vein of Transilvanian Hunger. While working within the confines of a style that some would consider to be quite limiting, Moonblood demonstrates their high level of skill when it comes to writing haunting guitar melodies. As far as the drumming being simplistic, it goes to show that the band truly understands the type of music that they are playing, especially the fact that the guitar riffs should always be the main focus, with the percussion only functioning to keep time. This is the longest track on the album, lasting a little over nine minutes, and it maintains a dreary atmosphere throughout. It ends with a short acoustic piece that plays the same melody, almost as a nod to Bathory.

"The Angels Lament" bursts forth from the gates of Hell, possessing a sense of tension and trepidation that gives an unsettling feeling. This song must have been a favourite for the songwriters behind the early Deathspell Omega material, as they mimicked this type of approach quite a bit. The aura is like that of a nightmare from which you are unable to escape.

The final song is "A Walk in the Woods", utilizing the same style as the other songs, though again creating a different feeling. This is almost more epic than dark, though still retaining some sort of murky atmosphere. As the song progresses, the frozen melodies are slowly embedded in your brain. The final moments introduce a more introspective riff that begins to brings you down into the morbid gloom, before fading into nothingness.

Taste Our German Steel builds upon the strengths of Blut und Krieg and eliminates the weaknesses, resulting in an album that is slightly less ambitious but much more cohesive. This is raw, minimalist and hateful Black Metal with a somewhat sombre tone, following in the footsteps of Transilvanian Hunger, to an extent. However, while working within the same style, the band still manages to sound unique and to retain their own identity. While the production is harsher than the first album, it still enables the listener to soak in the great guitar melodies and to suffocate in the atmosphere of darkness that is given birth. If you have not heard this already, seek it out by any means necessary.